Liberal School Board Votes To Destroy Revolutionary Mural Showing Washington's Slaves For Being 'Racist'

Just one of 13 panels in Victor Arnautoff’s ‘The Life of Washington’ set to be destroyed by San Francisco School Board for being racist.

Just one of 13 panels in Victor Arnautoff’s ‘The Life of Washington’ set to be destroyed by San Francisco School Board for being racist.

In a decision that has inflamed passions around art censorship — even among liberals — the San Francisco School Board has voted to paint over the 83-year-old mural ‘The Life of Washington’, painted by Victor Arnautoff, a New Deal muralist celebrated for his accurate telling of American history.

In addition to depicting Washington as a storied soldier, surveyor, statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the 13-panel, 1,600-square foot mural at George Washington High School features disruptive images of white men standing over the body of a Native American as well as slaves working at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

Arnautoff’s refusal to omit the more controversial aspects of Washington’s history were designed to call attention to “uncomfortable facts” about America’s first president.

“We on the left ought to welcome the honest portrayal,” Richard Walker, a professor emeritus of geography at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the history project, Living New Deal said, adding that destroying a piece of art “is the worst way we can deal with historic malfeasance, historic evils.”

Mark Sanchez, vice president of the school board and a third-grade teacher, said students who must walk past the mural during the school day don’t have a choice about seeing the harmful images. “Painting it over represents not only a symbolic fresh start, but a real fresh start,” writes TIME

Lope Yap, Jr., vice president of the Washington High School Alumni Association and a 1970 graduates, disagreed, saying when he was a student and saw the mural he was “awed by the subtle ways Arnautoff was able to critique American history.” He said the depictions are “treasures, priceless art” and painting it over is tantamount to pretending the history depicted never happened.

AOC covered the controversy in-depth in May. One assumes that a lawsuit will be filed, especially over concerns about a growing trend to destroy art deemed racist or offensive by groups of America’s diverse population. Calling such a factually correct, and revolutionary at the time artwork “racist” sends chills up and down the spines of Americans clamoring for historical honesty in public spaces.

The New York Times has a program inviting students to critique and engage in dialogue around controversial issues like this one. The edited commentary equally represents both sides, but as the NYTimes writes, what’s most encouraging is the dialogue among students with diverse viewpoints. Inspiring — even if the controversy is not. ~ Anne

Padma Lakshmi Bakes Independence Day 'Close the Camps' Red-White-Blue Pie

‘Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi celebrated the Fourth of July, creating her own fireworks with her special American flag pie. Lakshmi decorated her Independence Day pie with an American flag and the phrase “Close The Camps.” In another tweet, she urged people to “contact your representatives tomorrow and demand they #CloseTheCamps”, referencing the federal facilities that are holding undocumented migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In March Lakshmi used her own immigration story to call out Trump on Noah Trevor’s ‘The Daily Show’.

“I’m an immigrant,” the award-winning India-born cookbook author told host Trevor Noah as they discussed her advocacy for immigrants as an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Nations.

I really came here with my mother, much like these people at the border with hardly anything. What you have to understand is that, if a parent takes a child on a dangerous journey, puts them on their back, is willing to walk across deserts, that’s because the place they’re leaving is worse and more dangerous, and I just think we have plenty to share. And if you look at all the contributions that immigrants have made, you’re basically looking at what America is today, in whole, full stop.

AOC notes that four months later, everyone now refers to the Mexican border crisis as a ‘humanitarian crisis’. When Lakshmi spoke with Trevor Noah in March 2019, she said:

There’s no crisis. There’s no crisis. The only crisis is that we have a lunatic with a lot of power. That is the only crisis.

On Wednesday the 9th Circuit of Appeals voted 2-1 to deny a request from the Justice Department for an emergency stay of a lower court judge’s injunction blocking the Trump administration attempts to seize funds to build Trump’s wall by taking money from already in place to fund border projects in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Leonardo DiCaprio Folds His Climate Change Foundation Into New Earth Alliance

Environmentalist and Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio is the narrator and co-producer of Ice on Fire, an ‘eye-opening’ look at ‘never-before-seen solutions’ to climate change.

The new documentary, which debuted at the Cannes film festival on Wednesday May 22, travels to the Arctic, Alaska, Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica and the ‘fire-ravaged ruins of Northern California’ to explore the devastating impact of melting ice caps.

‘Ice On Fire’ first aired on HBO June 11 and is perhaps coordinated with another major decision by DiCaprio to fold his environmental charity, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, into the new Earth Alliance.

As a co-founding chair, the actor will join forces with Laurene Powell Jobs and her Emerson Collective and billionaire investor Brian Sheth, who is a co-founder and president of the private equity fund Vista Equity Partners and also board chair of the Global Wildlife Conservation.

Sheth also founded the Sheth Sangreal Foundation, which will fully finance the administrative costs of Earth Alliance, writes The Hollywood Reporter.

"Today marks the next step in the evolution of LDF as it fully merges under the new Earth Alliance management and grant-making framework," DiCaprio said in a statement. "Laurene and Brian are incredible civic leaders who share my passion and understanding of the urgency and scale of the challenges we face." 

Since launching in 1998, DiCaprio's environmental charity has handed out around $100 million in grants to battle climate change around the world.

"I am proud to join with Leo and Brian to make a habitable earth possible for future generations. Leo is one of the most uniquely gifted communicators of our time, and with Earth Alliance, we will harness those gifts to inspire people, regardless of age, race, or geography, to stand up as leaders for our natural world and safeguard our imperiled planet," Powell Jobs said in her own statement.

"Our planet is at a critical turning point, and we have an opportunity to transition our society to a sustainable one in harmony with—and in support of—all life on Earth," Sheth added in his own statement.

Until July 16, you can livestream Ice on Fire for free on HBO.